NCAA Basketball: 15 Greatest Recruiting Classes of the Past Decade

Paul AblesContributor IIIMay 25, 2012

NCAA Basketball: 15 Greatest Recruiting Classes of the Past Decade

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    Over the past three seasons, Kentucky head coach John Calipari has reeled in the nation's best overall draft class and led them to great heights, including back-to-back Final Four appearances and the 2012 NCAA National Championship.

    As incredible as these recruiting classes have been, he is not the only coach to convert a star-studded recruiting class into a championship-winning core. In fact there have been some incredible recruiting classes over the past decade of college basketball.

    Some have featured an overload of McDonald's All-Americans who carried a program for multiple seasons. Other classes have recruits who were not highly regarded but achieved great on-court success during their time in college.

    Ranking these classes is a difficult yet entertaining task, and I will be the first to admit that there is no exact science to choosing one class over the other. Simply put, I value the quality of the players and on-court success higher than the quantity of players or high school rankings of the players. If two teams achieved similar on-court success, then I will likely side with the class with more quality talent at multiple positions. 

    With that said, dive into the rankings, and leave your comments below to let me know what you think.

15. 2007 Kansas State

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    Rivals No. 4 Overall Recruiting Class for 2007

    5-star PF Michael Beasley (No. 1 overall)

    5-star SF Bill Walker (No. 7 overall)

    4-star SF Dominique Sutton (No. 105 overall)

    3-star PG Jacob Pullen (Unranked)

     

    Coming off of a decent season with head coach Bob Huggins at the helm, the Kansas State basketball program was expected to bring in a great collection of high school recruits for the 2007-08 college basketball season.

    However, Huggins left the team and went to coach at West Virginia University. This left the team with a talented class hanging in the balance, so Kansas State had to make a great hire in order to convince their recruits to stay.

    They did just that by signing Frank Martin as their head coach. The class remained mostly intact, led by top overall recruit Michael Beasley. The multifaceted forward was expected to be a one-and-done player in college, and he responded by dominating college basketball in his lone college season.

    Similar expectations held true for Bill Walker, who was a five-star prospect in his own right and formed a dynamic duo with Beasley. The two led Kansas State to a wildly successful season, with Beasley winning National Player of the Year honors and both players being drafted by NBA teams in the 2008 draft.

    The Wildcats did fall short in the NCAA tournament, only advancing to the second round before being upset by Wisconsin.

    However, the lowest-ranked recruit of the class ensured that the class made some sort of impact on the NCAA tournament.

    Jacob Pullen was not expected to become a dominant college player, but he blossomed into Kansas State's primary scorer during his final three college seasons, including a 20-point per game average in his senior season. Pullen led Kansas State to appearances in the 2010 Elite Eight and the 2011 Sweet 16.

    In all, this was likely the greatest recruiting class in school history, and Beasley and Walker have maintained careers in the NBA.

14. 2006 Texas

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    Rivals No. 3 Overall Recruiting Class for 2006

    5-star SF Kevin Durant (No. 2 overall)

    5-star SF Damion James (No. 17 overall)

    4-star PG D.J. Augustin (No. 49 overall)

    4-star SG Justin Mason (No. 86 overall)

    4-star SG Harrison Smith (No. 96 overall)

    3-star PF Matt Hill (No. 127 overall)

    3-star C Dexter Pittman (No. 150 overall)

     

    One name immediately comes to mind when mentioning this class: Kevin Durant. The current three-time NBA scoring champion began his college career by committing to the Texas Longhorns in the 2006 recruiting season.

    Durant was the headliner of the group, but other players would become invaluable contributors during their time at Texas. Five-star prospect Damion James was a multi-year starter for Mack Brown’s squad, while four-star point guard D.J. Augustin formed an imposing perimeter duo with Durant.

    Even Texas’ three-star recruit Dexter Pittman developed well, becoming a starter for the Longhorns and manning the middle during his college career. He now plays for the Miami Heat and started a playoff game in the Indiana series.

    James, Augustin and Pittman all made it to the NBA, but Durant is the player who took home all of the college accolades and is dominating professionally. He took home every major award for National Player of the Year, which was remarkable because of his freshman status.

    The only blemish on his college resume is that his Texas team lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament, failing to making a deep run on college basketball's biggest stage.

    However, the 2007-08 team performed better in the postseason. Led by Augustin, James and Pittman, Texas advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight, where they fell to John Calipari's Memphis team.

13. 2008 Kansas

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    Rivals No. 2 Overall Recruiting Class for 2008

    4-star PF Marcus Morris (No. 29 overall)

    4-star PF Markieff Morris (No. 49 overall)

    4-star SG Travis Releford (No. 70 overall)

    4-star PG Tyshawn Taylor (No. 77 overall)

    3-star PF Quintrell Thomas (Unranked)

    JUCO PG Tyrone Appleton

    JUCO SF Mario Little

     

    You have to give credit to Bill Self for this group. Despite not landing a single five-star prospect, Self hauled in the nation's second-ranked group of prospects by landing a collection of excellent four-star players who complimented each other well.

    The foursome of Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Travis Releford and Tyshawn Taylor formed the backbone of incredibly successful Kansas teams over the past four seasons. The Morris twins led Kansas to two Sweet 16 appearances and a spot in the 2011 Elite Eight. 

    Taylor and Releford took the team a few spots further this past college basketball season, guiding the Jayhawks to the 2012 NCAA National Championship game, where they fell to Kentucky in a classic matchup.

    Each player is expected to play in the NBA one day.

    The Morris twins made their way to the NBA draft in 2011, getting drafted by the Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets in the first round. Taylor and Releford graduated and are expected to make an NBA roster with their talent and high experience level.

    All in all, this class could end up with four players in the NBA. Not to mention, they made it to multiple Elite Eight appearances and a chance to play for the national title. That is not too shabby for a single recruiting class.

12. 2002 Illinois

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    Stat Sheet's No. 8 Overall Recruiting Class for 2002

    5-star PG Dee Brown (No. 19 overall)

    4-star PG Deron Williams (No. 48 overall)

    3-star C James Augustine (No. 78 overall)

    3-star PF Aaron Spears (No. 86 overall)

     

    Current NBA superstar Deron Williams may be a household name now, but he began his college career as a four-star prospect and the lesser-known name of a dynamic recruiting class.

    Bruce Weber brought in his greatest class at Illinois in 2002, which was headlined by five-star prospect Dee Brown. Williams was a Top-50 guard who played second fiddle to Brown in the Illini backcourt.

    The two guards were joined in the class by fellow three-star recruit James Augustine, a 6'10" center who anchored the middle for Illinois.

    This group of freshmen were actually recruited by Bill Self, who was the Illinois head coach at the time. This did not last long, however, as Self left after one season to coach the Kansas Jayhawks.

    Illinois brought in Bruce Weber as the team's new coach, and the 2002 recruiting class led the program to great heights upon Self's departure.

    Illinois advanced to the 2004 NCAA Elite Eight, and they followed that up by making a run to the 2005 NCAA championship game. Williams and Brown teamed up with teammate guard Luther Head to form the nation's most dangerous backcourt, while Augustine manned the paint. 

    The Illini defeated the University of Louisville Cardinals in the 2005 Final Four, only to fall in an incredible championship matchup against North Carolina. From there Deron Williams was drafted in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft and has become a superstar. 

    Brown and Augustine did not succeed in becoming long-term players in the NBA. However, this class was incredible in college and was the best team that Bruce Weber ever coached.

11. 2002 Syracuse

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    Stat Sheet's No. 10 Overall Recruiting Class for 2002

    5-star SF Carmelo Anthony (No. 2 overall)

    4-star PG Gerry McNamara (No. 38 overall)

    3-star PF Billy Edelin (Unranked)

     

    This recruiting class only consists of one five-star player and three players overall.

    However, it became one of the most important recruiting classes in college basketball history and paved the way forward for incoming freshmen to dominate the college landscape.

    The most heralded player of the class was small forward Carmelo Anthony. He was one of the highest-ranked players in the country and brought a lot of hype to the Orangemen.

    Meanwhile, four-star guard Gerry McNamara was expected to improve Syracuse’s backcourt by stretching the floor with his perimeter shooting. Fellow three-star recruit Billy Edelin rounded out the class but was nothing more than a reserve on the team.

    Therefore, only two players from this class were impact starters for Jim Boeheim’s ball club. However, they made the most of their opportunity and led the team to the 2003 NCAA National Championship. It was the first title in school history, and it is still the lone title in Boeheim’s career.

    McNamara ended up having an incredible four-year career for the Orangemen and led the team to multiple NCAA tournament appearances. Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony was the third-overall selection in the 2003 NBA Draft and has been a perennial All-Star throughout his NBA career.

    Most important of all, this small group of players proved to the rest of college basketball that freshmen could be key contributors to a championship-winning team, and that will be their defining legacy in college history.

10. 2006 Ohio State

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    Rivals No. 2 Overall Class for 2006

    5-star C Greg Oden (No. 1 overall)

    5-star SG Daequan Cook (No. 13 overall)

    5-star PG Mike Conley, Jr. (No. 18 overall)

    4-star SG David Lighty (No. 36 overall)

    3-star PF Othello Hunter (Unranked)

     

    The Ohio State Buckeyes have an odd placement in the history of college basketball.

    They have only won the national championship once in school history, but they have appeared in eleven Final Fours. Their tenth appearance occurred in 2006, when a group of heralded freshmen led the Buckeyes all the way to the NCAA National Championship game.

    Greg Oden was the star of the show for the Buckeyes. He was the top overall recruit coming into the 2006-07 season, slightly ahead of Texas freshman Kevin Durant. The college world was abuzz with hype for Oden, who thoroughly dominated the college ranks in his lone year on campus.

    Meanwhile, fellow five-star recruits Mike Conley, Jr. and Daequan Cook balanced out the Buckeye roster and formed a dynamic backcourt duo. David Lighty was invaluable off the bench and eventually started for Ohio State by the end of his college career.

    This class led Ohio State to the Big Ten championship and faced off against another talented recruiting class in the 2007 NCAA title game: the 2004 Florida recruiting class.

    The foursome of Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Taurean Green had gelled into one of the greatest teams of the past twenty years and defeated the Buckeyes to win the 2007 national championship.

    Although the freshman class fell one game short of their aspirations, they will still go down as one of the greatest recruiting classes in college history.

    Oden became the first overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, although injuries have derailed his NBA career. Meanwhile, Mike Conley and Daequan Cook are key players for the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder, respectively.

9. 2008 Butler

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    Rivals Unranked Recruiting Class for 2008

    3-star SG Gordon Hayward

    3-star SG Shelvin Mack

    3-star PG Ronald Nored

    2-star SF Garrett Butcher

     

    Sometimes, a great recruiting class is not defined by the number of stars or where the players end up in the class ranking. Instead, a recruiting class is known by its results on the basketball court, and no other recruiting class of the past decade has exemplified this more than the 2008 Butler Bulldogs.

    The group of players includes multiple three-star recruits…as the headliners. Rounding out the class are a few two-star players.

    Somehow, this unheralded and unranked group of players accomplished an incredible feat by leading Butler to back-to-back appearances in the NCAA National Championship game.

    Leading the way was shooting guard Gordon Hayward and point guard Shelvin Mack. Neither player was heavily recruited by a major college institution, so they enrolled at Butler University in Indianapolis, IN. The other three-star prospect was ­­­­­­Ronald Nored, who became the floor general for the Bulldogs

    Led by young coach Brad Stevens, the 2008 class formed the core of Butler’s roster during their magical runs in the 2010 and 2011 NCAA tournaments.

    Game by game, the Bulldogs faced teams with significant advantages in talent and pro prospects. Yet the results remained the same: Butler took home the victory.

    The team did fall short of national championship aspirations in each of their tournament runs, including a heartbreaking loss to Duke in 2010 and falling to Kemba Walker's Connecticut team in 2011.

    Even then, the players accomplished so much more than anyone expected of them. In addition, Hayward and Mack made it to the NBA and are currently playing for the Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards, respectively.

    This recruiting class is nowhere near the highest-rated on the list, but they have accomplished more than anyone ever anticipated and will go down in Butler lore as the greatest recruiting class for years to come.

8. 2003 Connecticut

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    Rivals No. 14 Overall Recruiting Class for 2003

    5-star PF Charlie Villanueva (No. 5 overall)

    4-star PF Josh Boone (No. 54 overall)

    4-star PG Marcus Williams (No. 61 overall)

    3-star SF Ryan Thompson (Unranked)


    The leader of the 2003 Husky recruiting class was five-star forward Charlie Villanueva. He nearly put his name in the NBA draft as a high school senior, but decided against it and chose to play college for Connecticut and head coach Jim Calhoun.

    Joining Villanueva in the frontcourt was forward Josh Boone. The two players formed a dynamic duo in the post and continued the proud tradition of Connecticut shot blockers.

    In fact they played next to Emeka Okafor and set a single-season college record for blocks, which was accomplished by the 2004 Connecticut team.

    That team won the national title that season in large part to the team’s elite post defense.

    However, they had to make plays from the perimeter as well, and point guard Marcus Williams proved to be an invaluable floor leader for the Huskies. He was also a member of the 2003 freshman class and had a stellar college career at Connecticut.

    Following the 2004 championship season, the trio of Villanueva, Boone and Williams were the key players on Connecticut's 2005 team that won the Big East regular season championship.

    Villanueva departed that season for the NBA, while Boone and Williams returned and led the 2006 Huskies to the NCAA Elite Eight.

    In that Elite Eight, they fell to a team that you might have heard of before—George Mason.

7. 2002 North Carolina

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    Stat Sheet's No. 2 Overall Recruiting Class for 2002

    5-star PG Raymond Felton (No. 3 overall)

    5-star SG Rashad McCants (No. 4 overall)

    5-star PF Sean May (No. 9 overall)

     

    The entire 2002 recruiting class has gone down as one of the most talented groups of players in history. Multiple future NBA players and college stars heralded from the class, and perhaps no other school hauled in more quality talent from that class than the North Carolina Tar Heels.

    Only three recruits committed to North Carolina that year, but all of them were top-10 overall prospects.

    Leading the way was point guard extraordinaire Raymond Felton, the nation's top-ranked floor general. Right behind him was Rashad McCants, the country's best shooting guard prospect. Rounding out the group is big man Sean May, who was one of the best power forwards available.

    The trio of players were recruited by then-head coach Matt Doherty. The team under-performed that year and missed postseason play. However, they blossomed once head coach Roy Williams took over the Tar Heel basketball program in 2004.

    North Carolina made it to the NCAA Tournament that season but lost in the second round.

    The team used that loss as a motivator and completely dominated college basketball in 2005. In fact they were the three key starters for the 2005 NCAA National Championship team, which was the first title for Williams.

    Upon winning the title, Felton, May and McCants all declared for the NBA draft. All three players were selected in the first round, but only Felton remains a viable player in the NBA.

    Regardless, these players were fantastic in college and restored North Carolina to glory in their final college season.

6. 2009 Kentucky

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    Rivals No. 1 Overall Recruiting Class for 2009

    5-star PG John Wall (No. 1 overall)

    5-star C DeMarcus Cousins (No. 2 overall)

    5-star C Daniel Orton (No. 22 overall)

    5-star PG Eric Bledsoe (No. 23 overall)

    4-star SG Jon Hood (No. 40 overall)

    JUCO SF Darnell Dodson

     

    In terms of pure talent and NBA potential, this class could arguably be the greatest on the list. Four players from this group were selected in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft, including John Wall, who went No. 1 overall to the Washington Wizards.

    The team came into Kentucky with more hype than nearly any other recruiting class in recent memory. They were John Calipari’s first group of recruits. Their presence officially announced to the college basketball world that Kentucky was back.

    Led by top overall prospects Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, the young but talented team steamrolled through the 2009-10 season. The Wildcats won the program’s 2000th game in school history, defeated archrival Louisville and earned the 2009 SEC regular season championship.

    Wall and Cousins became first-team All-America selections, but other freshmen contributed as well.

    Eric Bledsoe sacrificed his point guard role and started next to Wall, which turned out well for both players come draft time. Meanwhile, Daniel Orton backed up Cousins and was the best defensive shot-blocker on the roster.

    The only blemish on this team’s resume is their final result: a loss in the 2009 NCAA Elite Eight. They finished one game short of their Final Four aspirations, despite being arguably the most talented team in the country. 

    This is the main reason why I cannot rank this class higher than fourth.

    In terms of talent, they are right there with any other in history. However, the remaining five classes accomplished more on the court and still featured a ton of premium talent.

    Even with the record-number of NBA draft picks, I am also taking on-court success and college accomplishments into account, and there are other recruiting coups that accomplished more on the court than this group of players.

    Regardless, the team is heralded as one of the most important in Kentucky history because of how they restored the Wildcats back to national prominence. In addition, they have made their mark in the NBA, and each has a bright future ahead of him in the professional ranks.

5. 2005 Kansas

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    Rivals No. 4 Overall Recruiting Class for 2005

    5-star PF Julian Wright (No. 8 overall)

    5-star PG Mario Chalmers (No. 12 overall)

    5-star SF Brandon Rush (No. 13 overall)

    4-star PF Micah Downs (No. 28 overall)

     

    The 2005 Kansas recruiting class featured a number of five-star recruits, one of whom would end his college career by hitting one of the greatest shots in NCAA tournament history.

    A trio of freshmen led the class. Five-star prospects Julian Wright, Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers were McDonald’s All-Americans and brought a load of hype to the Jayhawk program. Meanwhile, four-star recruit Micah Downs provided size and depth for Bill Self’s juggernaut program.

    The team entered college and thoroughly dominated the Big 12 conference every year of their career, including 2007 when they finished 33-5 and advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight.

    The trio entered the 2008 season as heavy favorites to contend for the national championship, and they lived up to expectations by advancing to the 2008 Final Four. From there they defeated North Carolina and played Derrick Rose and the Memphis Tigers in the NCAA National Championship.

    Memphis was in control for most of the contest, but Kansas pulled off a comeback for the ages and forced overtime with a last-second, three-point shot by Chalmers. Kansas won the game in overtime, and that shot has become enshrined in NCAA tournament history as an all-time memorable play.

    All three players moved on to the NBA.

    None are star players, but Chalmers is currently the starting point guard for the Miami Heat. He helped the team advance to the 2011 NBA Finals, and they have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 playoffs.

    Brandon Rush was a one-time starter for the Indiana Pacers, although he now plays for the Golden State Warriors.

    Meanwhile, Julian Wright was drafted by the New Orleans Hornets.

4. 2010 Kentucky

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    Rivals No. 1 Overall Recruiting Class for 2010

    5-star PF Enes Kanter (No. 3 overall)

    5-star PG Brandon Knight (No. 6 overall)

    5-star PF Terrence Jones (No. 13 overall)

    5-star SG Doron Lamb (No. 21 overall)

    4-star SF Stacey Poole (No. 33 overall)


    Coming off of an appearance in the NCAA Elite Eight, the 2010-11 Kentucky Wildcats appeared to be gutted with an abundance of players leaving the team for the NBA draft.

    However, head coach John Calipari reloaded the roster with one of the most impressive recruiting hauls of the past decade.

    Ironically, the best player in the class was the only one who did not play for the Wildcats.

    Big man Enes Kanter came to Kentucky as the third-ranked player in the country. He dominated the Nike Hoops Summit and scored a then-record 34 points in the event. Regretfully, the NCAA declared him ineligible for the upcoming season, and he was forced to wait until the NBA draft to continue playing basketball.

    That did not stop the rest of the class from excelling. Brandon Knight led the way as another highly-touted point guard for Calipari. Power forward Terrence Jones brought a diverse skill set to the team and was a perfect match for the dribble-drive offense employed by the Cats.

    Rounding out the five-star prospects was Doron Lamb, who excelled at mid-range and long-distance shooting.

    The freshman class took on a necessary leadership role for the gutted roster and had a successful season. However, the team performed poorly in conference play and entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed.

    Kentucky responded as each freshman stepped up their game and stunned the country by defeating No. 1 overall seed Ohio State and No. 2 seed North Carolina to reach the 2011 Final Four.

    Their appearance was the first Final Four for the program since 1998’s championship team. For this accomplishment alone, the team will be heralded in Kentucky lore for decades to come as one of the school’s all-time great teams.

    After the season, Knight and Kanter declared for the NBA draft, and Stacey Poole transferred. However, holdovers Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb returned to Kentucky for their sophomore seasons and helped lead the 2011-12 team to the national championship.

    The duo's previous experience in the Final Four was an invaluable key to the success of that team, so this one recruiting class helped lead Kentucky to back-to-back Final Four appearances and a national title. 

3. 2006 North Carolina

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    Rivals No. 1 Overall Class for 2006

    5-star PF Brandan Wright (No. 3 overall)

    5-star SG Wayne Ellington (No. 8 overall)

    5-star PG Ty Lawson (No. 9 overall)

    4-star PF Alex Stepheson (No. 41 overall)

    4-star PF Deon Thompson (No. 72 overall)

    3-star SF William Graves (No. 105 overall)

     

    The 2006 recruiting class was similar to the 2002 recruiting class. Simply put there were a high number of future NBA players and college stars in the group. Many schools hauled in a top-notch recruiting class.

    However, none benefited more than Roy Williams’ North Carolina Tar Heels. They brought in the nation’s best group of high school prospects, including a plethora of five-star and four-star recruits.

    Leading the way were Brandan Wright, Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington, all of whom were five-star players. Lawson was the nation’s fastest point guard, Ellington was one of the top pure shooters, and Wright had incredible length and athleticism at the forward spot.

    In addition Williams formed a powerful frontcourt trio with the signings of Deon Thompson and Alex Stepheson, who were four-star prospects. Rounding out the class was small forward Will Graves, who was an important role player during his time at North Carolina.

    North Carolina reeled off an excellent three-year run because of this class.

    During their freshman season, the recruits helped lead North Carolina to the 2007 NCAA Elite Eight.

    Brandan Wright departed for the NBA, but the rest of the group stayed and advanced to the 2008 NCAA Final Four before eventually falling to Kansas.

    The entire class defied expectations and returned to school for their junior year. Led by senior leader Tyler Hansbrough, the Tar Heels steamrolled through the season and easily defeated Michigan State in the 2009 National Championship game.

    The only downside of this class is their lack of success in the NBA.

    Lawson is a starting point guard for the Denver Nuggets, but none of the other players have achieved much success on the pro level. Ellington has been a spot role player at best, and Brandan Wright was a draft bust. Neither Deon Thompson nor Alex Stepheson held onto a roster spot in the NBA, despite their success in college.

    However, their lack of pro success does not diminish how incredible this group of players was in college.

    They were highly-ranked by every national recruiting service and they accomplished the ultimate team goal by winning a national championship. In addition the 2009 team is heralded as one of the greatest collections of talent in recent memory.

    This will forever be one of the great recruiting classes in college basketball.

2. 2004 Florida

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    Rivals No. 12 Overall Recruiting Class for 2004

    4-star SF Corey Brewer (No. 31 overall)

    4-star PF Al Horford (No. 36 overall)

    4-star PF Joakim Noah (No. 75 overall)

    3-star PG Taurean Green (No. 105 overall)

     

    This class might be the most impressive in basketball history in terms of where the players were ranked versus what they accomplished during college. None of the four players were five-star recruits, so there was not a lot of hype surrounding the bunch.

    However, the foursome of Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Taurean Green led the Florida Gators to the pinnacle of college basketball by winning the 2006 NCAA National Championship.

    On the way to the title, the Gators won five of the six tournament games by double figures, including a 15-point win against George Mason in the Final Four and a sixteen-point victory over UCLA in the national title game.

    To follow that up, the group immortalized their placement in basketball lore by returning for their junior seasons and repeating as champions in 2007.

    This feat had not been accomplished since Duke in the early 1990s, but the No. 14-ranked recruiting class of 2004 pulled off back-to-back titles by defeating Ohio State's "Thad Five" in the 2007 NCAA National Championship game. The final result will forever immortalize this group of recruits in college basketball lore.

    All four players have moved on and are playing professional basketball. Al Horford was the third-overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft. Meanwhile, Noah was selected by the Chicago Bulls, and Brewer left the warm weather of Florida and played up north for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    Next up is the greatest recruiting class of the previous decade.

    It is tough to beat a group that won back-to-back national championships, but the next group of players accomplished plenty of on-court success while possessing the greatest collection of high-quality recruits in college basketball history.

    Read on to see who it is.

1. 2011 Kentucky

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    Rivals No. 1 Overall Class for 2011

    5-star PF Anthony Davis (No. 2 overall, No. 1 PF)

    5-star SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (No. 3 overall, No. 1 SF)

    5-star PG Marquis Teague (No. 5 overall, No. 1 PG)

    5-star PF Kyle Wiltjer (No. 22 overall, No. 5 PF)


    John Calipari had two incredible classes come before this one, but his 2011-12 class will likely be a benchmark that all other coaches strive to match. In terms of player and position rankings, this group is in a class of its own and is arguably the single greatest recruiting coup in history.

    Never before have three of the country’s five best prospects committed to one school. However, fellow top-five recruits Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague broke new ground by committing to play for the Wildcats.

    In addition each player was the top-ranked prospect at their respective position. This feat had never occurred in one recruiting class, but Calipari pulled it off.

    Davis was the nation’s best power forward, Kidd-Gilchrist ranked as the top small forward recruit, and Marquis Teague was heralded as the most talented point guard prospect.

    These three players were not the only five-star recruits to commit to Kentucky. A fourth player, Kyle Wiltjer, committed to the Cats before visiting campus. Wiltjer was a five-star power forward and was a consensus Top-25 recruit in the 2011 class. He specialized in long-range shooting and won the 2011 McDonald’s All-American Three Point Shootout.

    During the season all four freshmen were fantastic and guided Kentucky to a NCAA-record 38 wins and the SEC regular season championship. Davis, Teague and Kidd-Gilchrist each averaged over ten points per game and played terrific defense.

    Anthony Davis was the standout player of the group as he produced one of the most heralded single seasons in college basketball history. Davis won all six major National Player of the Year awards, set a freshman record for blocks in a season, was selected as a First-Team All-American and won the Final Four Most Outstanding Player award.

    This incredible foursome went on to lead Kentucky to their second consecutive Final Four appearance. From there the Wildcats defeated archrival Louisville and then took home the 2012 NCAA title by beating Kansas.

    It was the school’s first title since 1998, breaking a 14-year drought for the nation’s proudest fan base.

    When comparing this group to Florida's 2004 class, there are a lot of similarities. Each group consists of four players who were leaders on their team.

    I understand that the Florida class achieved more on the court than this one. However, this team produced one of the most decorated single seasons in college basketball history and features one of the best college players of our generation in Anthony Davis.

    It is also remarkable that this one class features three top-five overall prospects, each of whom is the top-ranked player at their respective position. That is an accomplishment that is simply unmatched by any other class and gives the 2011 group a leg-up over the competition.

    They are the greatest single recruiting class of the past decade of college basketball.